World Health Organization has classified Indian variant of Coronavirus, known as B.1.617 as a “variant of global concern”. This may worsen the situation more. WHO declared that this coronavirus first found in India last year is of global concern. It spreads more easily than other variants, A research indicated.
Scientists are suspicious that variant B.1.617, is responsible for surging the cases in India. It was first found in India in October 2020. This variant has already spread to more than 30 countries, according to WHO. Three other variants from UK, Brazil and South Africa were also categorized as global concern.
From ‘Variant of Interest’ to ‘Variant of Concern’
A mutation is raised from “Variant of Interest”(VOI) to “Variant of Concern”(VOC) when it falls into at least one the following criteria.
- Easy Transmission
- More severe illness
- Less neutralization by antibodies
- Reduced effectiveness of treatment and vaccines
Thus we are classifying this variant as a “concern at the global level” said MariaVan Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19 at Press Conference. There is a prove that depicts Increased Transmission of this strain of virus and it is also less responsive protections provided by vaccines. Classifying a Variant as VOC is considered to be dangerous.
Are Covid-19 vaccines still effective?
Meanwhile, it is also suggested that “based on the current data, the covid-19 vaccines can help in preventing deaths and disease in people infected with this variant,” it was told in a statement. As WHO’s Van Kerkhove also said there is no evidence till now that says that existing diagnostics or vaccines don’t work against SARS- CoV-2.Thus there is no problem in taking vaccines.
But Maria Van Kerkhove further said, for all those who are at home SARS-Cov-2 viruses circulating has the capacity to infect and spread easily and anything related to it is a matter of great concern. So, no matter where we live, no matter what type of virus is circulating, we need to ensure to take all the measures and protocols required to prevent ourselves from acquiring this deadly disease.
B.1.617 Variant discovered in 44 countries
This B.1.617 , a ‘variant of concern’ found in India last year is now found in 44 countries according to WHO. “As of May 11, 4500 sequences have uploaded to GISAID and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions”, according to the global health body. GISAID is a ‘global science initiative and primary source that provide open access to genomic data of the novel coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, if we see in India, it is still being studied whether B.1.617 variant is responsible for increased deaths and infections. India reported 366,161 infections and 3754 deaths on Monday. Experts say actual figures can be higher than these. There are estimations that there can be the link between new variant and second wave of corona virus. But that correlation is not yet “fully established”.
Consequently WHO Foundation has also launched “Together for India” initiative to collect funds to aid WHO’s work in India. It involves the purchase of oxygen, personal protective equipment and medicines.